Author: Henry Jackson


Carrick shows West Ham how much he’s progressed


Among the physical, tenacious battle between West Ham and Manchester United on Wednesday, one player played the game at his own pace, controlling the midfield and oozing class: Michael Carrick.

The 31-year-old, who is enjoying the finest season of his career at Old Trafford, is a huge talking point in England at the moment. Some feel he is vastly overrated and a player who can do the simple stuff and not much else; others feel completely the opposite, feeling his importance to the United side goes unnoticed by many people.

Once thing is for sure, there will have been some proud faces in the crowd and among some of the staff at Upton Park on Wednesday, seeing how far their former player has come over the years.

Way back in 1997 Carrick won the Youth Cup with West Ham as a 15-year-old. That side featured a stunning array of young talent inlcuding Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole, and great things were expected of them all. They haven’t disappointed.

Carrick had become a firm fixture in West Ham’s team by the early 00s despite still only being in his late teens and early 20s, and it wasn’t too long before a battle for his signature emerged.

In 2004 he signed for Tottenham for a fee of $5.3m/£3.5m, and after a slow start to life at White Hart Lane he became an integral part of the starting lineup under Martin Jol.

At the end of the 2005/06 season there were plenty of rumours suggesting Carrick would join United in time for the new season. The rumours were valid, and after Tottenham rejected an initial bid for the midfielder they eventually agreed a deal in the region of $27m/£18m, with Sir Alex Ferguson seeing Carrick as the ideal replacement for their former captain Roy Keane.

In his first six years at Old Trafford he had many admirers and also many detractors, but this season feels like his game has gone up a level. Where previously he was quite a regular starter but played the support act to stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, he has now become one of the most noticeable players in the side. Only Robin Van Persie can claim to have been as influential this season for the soon-to-be Premier League champions.

Many supporters, particularly those of the United persuasion, feel he now has to be a regular in the England team, believing his ability to keep possession would be invaluable to a side constantly incapable of doing just that.

He’s not getting any younger and doesn’t represent the future, but a midfield trio of Carrick, captain Steven Gerrard and young prodigy Jack Wilshere should be their first-choice midfield from now up until the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

One thing is for sure, Michael Carrick has now officially lived up to the hype surrounding him back in 1997.

5 great Liverpool-Chelsea clashes

Can Chelsea win the Premier League? Watch all the games this season on NBC and find out.
Leave a comment

Liverpool face Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday, in what has been one of the most entertaining, controversial fixtures over the last decade. Here are five of the most memorable Liverpool vs Chelsea matches at Anfield in recent times:-

LIVERPOOL 1-0 CHELSEA- 2005 (Champions League)

Many believe this was the loudest atmosphere Anfield had ever witnessed, as the two sides met in the Champions League semifinal second leg. The first leg had been a tight 0-0 draw, so it was all to play for. Just a few minutes into the game came one of the most controversial moments in recent memory, as Luis Garcia’s bundled effort was judged to have crossed the line by the referee. Anfield went wild, Chelsea’s players were incensed and eventually, after an incredibly tense finale, Liverpool progressed to the final.

LIVERPOOL 1-4 CHELSEA- 2005 (Premier League)

Jose Mourinho’s side visited Anfield early in the 2005/06 season as champions, still smarting from their defeat at the same ground a few months previously. England’s dynamic midfield duo of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard exchanged goals before a bit of genius from Didier Drogba set up Damian Duff to give them a half-time lead. The highly impressive visitors then bossed the second half, with further goals from Joe Cole and Geremi, and Chelsea had their revenge.


LIVERPOOL 1-0 CHELSEA- 2007 (Champions league)

Two years on from their thrilling semifinal, the two sides met again at the same stage. This time a Cole goal had given Chelsea a 1-0 advantage from the first leg, and many fancied them to progress to the Champions League final this time around. Things did not pan out that way, however, and Daniel Agger’s brilliantly worked goal took the game to extra-time and penalties. In the shootout it was Liverpool ‘keeper Pepe Reina who proved to be the hero, saving from Arjen Robben and Geremi. Dirk Kuyt scored the winning kick to send Rafa Benitez’s side through to face Milan in Athens.

LIVERPOOL 2-0 CHELSEA- 2009 (Premier League)

Having led the Premier League title race at Christmas of the 2008/09 season, Liverpool had an awful January. Both sides knew that defeat for one of them would effectively end their title hopes, with Manchester United leading the way. Frank Lampard was sent off in the second half for a foul on Xabi Alonso, and with the game heading for a stalemate Fernando Torres scored two priceless goals in the last few minutes of the game. Anfield went wild, while Chelsea’s title dreams were finished.


LIVERPOOL 1-3 CHELSEA- 2009 (Champions League)

Yet another Champions League meeting, but this time in a quarterfinal first leg. Torres gave Liverpool a dream start, but from that point on it was all Chelsea, now coached by Guus Hiddink. Defender Branislav Ivanovic showed his threat in the air, scoring two headers either side of the interval to put his side in control. Drogba then put the icing on the cake with a lethal finish to give Chelsea a priceless away win. The epic 4-4 draw in the return leg was enough to see Hiddink’s side progress to the last four…..just.

Rui Patricio will cost Arsenal $20 million

Sporting Lisbon's goalkeeper Rui Patricio gestures to fans after the first goal of his team against Benfica in Lisbon
Leave a comment

Sporting Lisbon have told Arsenal that they will have to pay somewhere in the region of $20 million for the services of their goalkeeper Rui Patricio, according to The Express.

One of Arsenal’s weakest areas this season has been in goal, with Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski both failing to convince Arsene Wenger that they are the long-term solution between the sticks.

While their main rivals in the Premier League have ‘keepers like Joe Hart, Pepe Reina, Petr Cech, Hugo Lloris and David De Gea, Szczesny and Fabianski simply aren’t on their level, and they have struggled to fill the void left by Jens Lehmann since the ‘Invincibles’ era of the mid 00s.


Patricio is arguably Portugal’s first-choice ‘keeper right now, and the 25-year-old is regarded as one of the most talented young players in his position in European soccer.

Portuguese newspaper A Bola claims the fee that Lisbon have slapped on Patricio is $20m/£13m, and only then will the club listen to offers for their player.

Another ‘keeper who has been linked with a move to The Emirates is the Hamburger SV and Germany international Rene Adler, who is thought to be available at a much cheaper price than the Portuguese star. Despite this, Wenger has set his sights on Patricio as his future number one, seeing it as a key area to improve as they look to make a title push next season.

Patricio has spent his entire career at Sporting Lisbon, playing 242 games thus far between his debut in 2006 and the present day.

John Terry’s influence still remains

Fulham v Chelsea - Premier League
Leave a comment

Chelsea registered a crucial 3-0 win over Fulham on Wednesday, in their quest for Champions League football next season.

Rather than Demba Ba, Fernando Torres or Juan Mata making the headlines for their  offensive exploits, it was captain John Terry who was the unlikely goalscoring hero on the night.

The 32-year-old Chelsea legend has made just three league starts in the 2013, but he showed what an integral member of the squad he still is, with two headers in the impressive victory at Craven Cottage. David Luiz’s sensational strike opened the scoring before Terry took center stage.

The former England skipper has lost his regular place in the starting lineup under Rafa Benitez, and while some believe his best days are behind him he still carries that influence and inspiration that not many have. Whether you love him or loathe him is irrelevant, Chelsea have a different aura about them when he is on the pitch.


Terry’s love for Chelsea Football Club and ‘win at all costs’ attitude will be invaluable for Benitez’s side between now and the end of the season. England miss his authority at the back hugely since his retirement from international soccer last year.

Despite his lack of first-team action this season he has still managed six goals, which for center-back is more than respectable.

Benitez would be mad not to recall him for every game from now until the end of the season, assuming he stays fit.

Terry has been captain of Chelsea since the age of 24, and led them Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006 under Jose Mourinho. He has made 560 appearances for the club, scoring 55 goals.

Man City’s assistant hails Roberto Mancini

Manchester City v Wigan Athletic - Premier League
Leave a comment

Manchester City assistant coach Brian Kidd has heaped praise on coach Roberto Mancini, say he’s done magnificent job in charge of the club.

Mancini took the City job in late 2009 after taking over from Mark Hughes, and in his three and a half years at the club he has delivered the FA Cup in 2011 and, memorably, the Premier League title last season.

Kidd told BBC Radio Manchester that he has nothing but praise for what the 48-year-old Italian has achieved at the club since day one.

“What he’s done in just short of four years has been fantastic,” he said.

“The boss has been terrific in the way he’s adapted to the Premier League and the success he’s brought to Manchester City. He’s put silverware on the sideboard.

“Every manager has different styles and different ways and he’s not dissimilar to [Manchester United manager] Sir Alex Ferguson. He’s not afraid to make big decisions, he’s passionate and he can handle big players,” Kidd added.

source: Getty Images

There has been much speculation in recent months about Mancini’s future, with some suggesting that his time in charge at The Etihad could come to an end this summer, after a very disappointing defence of their league title. Coaches such as Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp and Manuel Pelligrini have all been linked with taking over in place of Mancini.

They face Wigan in the FA Cup final next month, and if he wins that then it is likely he will remain with City beyond the summer.